Now that the draft is over and the IFA period is about to begin (July 2), I thought this would be a good time to revisit the Cubs Top 10. The Cubs will almost certainly augment this list with the Samardzija/Hammel trades, and those could happen anytime after Wednesday (which is when the dam breaks). Still, it’s worthwhile to look at the list now.
1. Kris Bryant
This season: .355/.458/.702 at AA, .351/.429/.838 at AAA, 27 HR, 69 RBI, 8 SB
OFP: Giancarlo Stanton with slightly less power and slightly less plate discipline
Floor: UTIL MLB 3B/RF with 40% K rate
I have every confidence that Bryant will strike out less as he learns the intricacies of major-league pitching. Like every young player since time immemorial, you can get him out up and in and down and away. We’ve seen the adjustments that Rizzo has made in each area; if Bryant makes the same adjustments, he’ll have a similar career trajectory than Rizzo does, with even more power and from a better position defensively. I don’t think his major league future is at third, though he could be fringe-average there.
2. Javier Baez
Baez has had a rough year (though his OBP is at Stars and Stripes range!). We all knew this could happen, as Baez has a feast-or-famine toolset that’s made Javier very hungry this year. His wRC+ is almost 100 points lower in AAA than it was in AA, and his ISO is almost halved as well. The best player to have a K rate above 27.5% in the past 10 years at AAA is either Tyler Flowers or Justin Ruggiano, so Baez will have to break the mold in someway to be successful.
3. Jorge Soler
This season: .533/.632/.867 at R, .333/.407/.625 at AA, injured
OFP: Yasiel Puig, but a little worse
Floor: The poem “Ozymandias”
It’s entirely possible that Soler will be the best hitter in this group. In fact, in my opinion, he’s the clubhouse leader. The only problem in his development is that he just can’t stay healthy. He’s dinged both hamstrings, and there’s a very real threat that those injuries have sapped both development time and physical projection. They’ve apparently reworked some of his mechanics in an effort to fix the problem. Time will tell.
This season: .305/.346/.547 at AAA, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 18 SB
OFP: Carlos Gomez, but a fair bit worse
Floor: Utility MLB guy
Let me be clear: I think Alcantara is going to have some serious problems having a league-average OBP in the majors. He does not have great plate discipline, though it’s not abhorrent either. The power he’s shown this year is pretty nice, and I think that there’s basically a 100% chance he catches on as a utility guy if he can’t hack it as a starter. His ceiling is not super high, but his floor is a major-leaguer, and that’s very important.
This season: .600/.625/1.350 in A-, .412/.512/.882 to A, 8 HR in 65 PA
OFP/Floor: Way, way too early to tell
Schwarber’s bat will outpace his glove, and as such, he’s probably a LF when it’s all said and done. If he had the time to refine his catching abilities, he’d probably be average at the backstop. His bat should play in the outfield, though. dmick hates the fact that he’s a B1G guy, and I don’t either. There’s only one good team in that division, and he was on it. Next year will be extremely important, as he’ll spend it all in AA/AAA just like Kris Bryant did. He won’t destroy the league like Bryant, though.
This season: .259/.283/.341 in A+, 3 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB
OFP: Jacoby Ellsbury
Scouting pundits tell me that Almora is just fine, and that he’s working on stuff. Well, I’d really like him to work on getting on base. That would be awesome. He still has preternatural bat-to-ball ability, though it hasn’t manifested in hits this year. I don’t think the book is finished on Albert, but to deny the “scouting to the stats” is to invite heartbreak later on.
7. Jen-Ho Tseng
This season: 10 GS, 50.1 IP, 2.79 FIP, 25.0% K, 3.4% BB
Tseng is a 19-year old Taiwanese righty that has received major, major helium this year. The scouting consensus agrees with the results: he’s a bona-fide pitching prospect. Catfish has only two pitches; a 90-93 FB with incredible plane, and an 80-83 changeup with late fade that’s Tseng’s calling card. He’s working on a 3rd pitch, a curveball that he’ll need to stay in a rotation. Tseng’s age is a huge bonus for him, as the Cubs can take it slow and develop, but the Old God T’Instaap can take your arm at any time He pleases.
This season: 9 IP, 2.43 FIP at A+, 13.2 IP, 2.72 FIP at AA, 2.1 IP, 6.60 FIP at AAA
OFP: Setup ace
Speaking of T’Instaap, he has taken a lot from Arodys over the years. Now that Vizcaino is finally healthy, he has a great chance at being an impact arm in the bullpen. I’m loathe to call him a for-sure closer, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t play a crucial role in a bullpen in the future. Vizcaino features two 6/7 pitches in a dynamite fastball/curveball. He’ll be here before you know it.
9. C.J. Edwards
This season: 20.2 IP, 3.08 FIP at AA, 23.8 K%, 9.5 BB%, doctor’s offices
OFP: #2/#3 starter
Floor: you already know
Edwards was getting serious buzz last year after his evisceration of the lower minors. He left no survivors in A/A+, and the only concern was his slight frame keeping him off the mound with fair regularity. That’s exactly what happened, as Edwards missed significant time this season. He’s listed as 6’2″, 155 lbs, and if he’s 155 pounds, I’m the King of China. I hope he spent all of his time off eating.
10. Pierce Johnson
This season: 11 IP, 4.39 FIP at A, 26.2 IP, 5.59 FIP at AA
OFP: #3 starter
Floor: washout (by injury or control issues)
Johnson was the beneficiary of the same buzz as Edwards coming into this season, and he had the same issues. It is just so hard to stay healthy as a pitcher for one reason or another. When Johnson came back, he had lost his control, and he’s working on reclaiming that now. We’ll see how that works out.